There seems to be a disturbing lack of modesty these days. I’m not talking about physical exhibitionism. I’m talking about the nature of words. We (me included) flash thoughts into comment boxes and status updates without much thought. We tend to listen to people who agree with us. And then, when someone voices a different opinion, we pounce…its a feeding frenzy. I’ve long ago quit reading college football message boards…inane testosterone fueled drivel. And then along comes the election cycle…hard to avoid.
I read a post written by Ron Howard a couple days ago on the Huffington Post basically calling for for honest campaign ads…basically the candidate speaking into the camera in their own words with an American flag backdrop. No writers…no professional spin doctors…no film makers. Simply stating their positions on the germane issues of the day. If they are going to attack their opponent, it would be words coming directly out of their own mouth. I would love to see this happen. But of course no one would listen to those ads.
I recently engaged in a little flash discussion with some college buddies of mine. Both were roommates at one time or another. Both were groomsmen in my wedding. Here some 25ish years later, we find our selves in 3 different states separated by thousands of miles and pretty much on different sides on what has proven to be some very emotionally charged issues. Something pretty refreshing happened. We all presented our positions without calling each other names. Respectful dialogue…hmmm…. Imagine that…
As to Snoopy, frankly…no…it rarely occurs to us that we might be wrong. Mainly because we only really listen to our own voice. We surround ourselves with voices that agree with our voice. And then, when a different point of view is expressed, we simply turn it off…either by switching the channel, the station, the website, or the magazine. If it’s on our Facebook page, we simply try to scream louder than they are. So…no, Snoopy, it has never occurred to me that I might be wrong. Probably not anyone reading this post either.
I was “unfriended” the other day…actually twice. One day my friend count on Facebook was 1001…the next day it was 999! What to do? Now, I’m fully aware of the superficial nature of the friendship counter on my Facebook profile. One’s friend number is entirely reflective of your FB friending criteria. For a long time I held a pretty conservative line on who I would add as a friend on FB…only someone I know very well. Then it moved to , “do I recognize their face?” Now, it depends on my mood. I usually friend anyone I can place somewhere in some iteration of my life.
One thing that Facebook has done is provide some very intriguing perspective on this idea of friendship. First of all, I can easily begin to place my 999 friends into very specific categories corresponding to different times of my life: growing up on Bayou Lafourche; going away to LSU; seminary in Fort Worth, TX; returning to Louisiana for my first ministry job; moving to Tennessee. Those can be broken down even more to the individual churches I was a part of, people I met at conferences, friends from other countries met through my travels. A pleasant surprise has been the “friends of friends” that I’ve never met face to face…we’ve only “talked” on Facebook walls and messages. I enjoy immensely conversations that spring up among friends of mine who have never met.
It’s interesting how these varied relationships have changed. There are people who I considered very close friends when we lived near each other and talked regularly who I haven’t really spoken to since we became Facebook friends. There other relationships that have deepened due to Facebook conversations…conversations that might never have occurred in person. In several instances, I’m closer now to a few people I’ve never met face to face than I am to people I used to hang out with.
One last observation…I realize that Facebook profiles place some of our personality traits and beliefs out front for people to see…things that either don’t come up in casual conversations or that we don’t necessarily want people to know. I’m not talking about sinister-loss-of-privacy-TMI kind of stuff. I now know that a couple of my friends are HUGE Metallica fans…nothing wrong with that at all, just wouldn’t have thought it at first. I know that I have some artists. Some political liberals…some political conservatives. Some theological liberals…some conservative. Some believe in God. Some do not. Gay. Straight. Pro-life. Pro-choice. yada, yada, yada… The diversity is simply amazing. And for me, it’s pretty energizing.
I’m realizing that I value the diversity and the conversations more than I do homogeneity. Maybe that’s what I truly love about Facebook. We tend to live pretty compartmentalized lives. The public faces of our offices and churches are pretty mask-like…we don’t want to rock the boat so we hold back important parts of who we are to maintain the social mores. With Facebook, I’m sitting in a large room with a thousand friends from different parts of my life. Occasional conversations pop up. Sometimes I think, “OH #$%, those two are talking politics!!!” or “I miss seeing those people on a regular basis.” or “That’s really cool!” And countless other things…I love my FB Peeps.
So I was un-friended…not sure why…could be a lot of reasons. I really don’t mind that much…it’s happened before and will happen again. Who’s going to be my next 1000th friend?
(If you’re interested, this link is to a good article about online relationships and Facebook: I’m so Digitally Close to You)
I was helping my daughter set up her Ipod touch. The more we got into the process, the more we were amazed (those of you who already have an iPhone or iPod touch…excuse us). Click a song, press “genius” and a new playlist appears…let me check out youtube for the video…web for lyrics, iTunes for other music by this artist…”this is cool, let’s post it on Facebook”(from the iPod), her friend replies…”if you like that, check this out”…you get the idea. All this ON her ipod…a unit the size of a cell phone.
I realize how differently I think about listening to music. It was once a physical object on my shelf. I have a wall of CD’s in my home office (probably 700 to 1000…I started collecting CD’s in 1985). I have a shelf full of old vinyl records that my daughter now uses to decorate her room…we have nothing on which to play them). I was the music geek that read the liner notes inside the big album cover. I was a little bumed about CD’s because the jewel case was not as satisfying as the large album cover (go find the vinyl version of Elton John’s Goodbye Yellow Brick Road, Led Zeppelin’s Physical Graffiti, or Pink Floyd’s The Wall for example).
Now, my music is not on a shelf…it’s not a physical entity. I’m sitting at my computer…I have over 6400 songs…1,000 albums by 550 artists on my hard-drive. I can find lyrics, tour schedules, reviews, videos, interviews, causes that inspired the music, art…you get the idea. Music is now a multi-sensory experience. I think about it, visualize it differently.
This was a quick ramble. Check out the video below. Give it a chance, and then let me know your thoughts… The video is not merely about the convenience of technology…it’s about thinking differently. Interact with this post…this is not merely a publication…it’s a conversation!